Football / Sports

Top defensive backs in the NFL draft

CREAM OF THE CROP

Player Pos. School Ht. Wt.

Justin Gilbert CB Oklahoma State 6-0 202

Has catch-up speed (4.37) to overcome rookie mistakes; also a dangerous return man.

Darqueze Dennard CB Michigan State 5-11 199

Thorpe Award winner not as fast as Gilbert but looks like better football player on tape.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix S Alabama 6-1 208

Can play free or strong, but was more productive in 2012 when using range to play back end.

Calvin Pryor S Louisville 5-11 207

Big hitter projects more as SS; knocked opponents out of game in 3 games last season.

Kyle Fuller CB Virginia Tech 6-0 190

Aggressive, instinctive, versatile (can play slot); fully recovered from sports hernia surgery.

DON'T OVERLOOK

Dion Bailey (S), Southern Cal; Terrence Brooks (S), Florida State; Deone Bucannon (S), Washington State; Lamarcus Joyner (CB/S), Florida State; Bradley Roby (CB), Ohio State; Jason Verrett (CB), TCU; Jimmie Ward (S), Northern Illinois.

FUN FACT

Fuller has two older brothers with NFL experience. Currently out of football, S Vincent Fuller played six seasons for Tennessee and split a seventh between New England and Detroit; WR Corey Fuller is on Detroit's practice squad. All three Fullers played for Virginia Tech.

QUOTABLE

"CP is a rare player. He plays fast. He's always around the ball. He can hit. He's a physical person. So if I compare myself, I'd just say I'm very quick. I can't say I can hit like him, because he's a big hitter." -- Clinton-Dix, on Pryor.

LOCAL LINE IN THE ST. LOUIS AREA

With his size and ball skills, Lindenwood CB Pierre Desir (Francis Howell Central HS) could be a third-round pick; Missouri CB E.J. Gaines looks like a middle-round pick; Utah State S Mo Alexander (Eureka HS) projects as a late-rounder.

RAMS' NEEDS

Secondary is a major need area that the team failed to address in free agency. The search is on for a starting free safety and a nickel back. After releasing Cortland Finnegan, the Rams have Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Brandon McGee and their fingers crossed. At safety, T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod head a very young group.

(c)2014 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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